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Spot welding of very dissimilar metals, such as aluminum and steel, is generally not possible because of different melting characteristics and conductivities. Some types of coated low-carbon steels require special techniques. Steels plated with chrome and nickel for electrical conductivity can usually be resistance welded as readily as uncoated material. Aluminum, tin, zinc and terne-coated steels are also spot weldable with special precautions and welding equipment. Some coatings can emit poisonous fumes that must be safely handled when spot welded, thereby increasing cost. Spot welding of coated substrates creates burn marks in the coating which can be unsightly and may corrode in severe environments. Designers should carefully consider the product’s appearance and service requirements before specifying spot welding of pre-plated materials.
Plug welding is an alternative to spot welding used by vehicle manufacturers where there is insufficient access for a spot welder. For DIY car restoration it’s generally used instead of spot welding on panels flanges that would have originally been spot welded. Plug welds when done properly tend to be stronger than the original spot welds. Rally car builders often use the technique, and it is acceptable in a UK MOT test as an alternative to spot welds where repairing older cars (it would not be suitable for modern high tensile steels).
Spot welding is a resistance welding process that is used primarily for welding two or more metal sheets together by applying pressure and heat to the weld area. It works by contacting copper alloy electrodes to the sheet surfaces, whereby pressure and electric current are applied and heat is generated by the passage of current through resistive materials such as low carbon steels. See extra info at Tecna Spot Welder.
Stationary spot welders are mounted on a column with a jack and mobile arms. The frame is heavy and bulky and the machine has a welding capacity of 0.5–10mm. The body of the machine often equipped with a 380V generator and two arms with a mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic jack to adjust operating height, as well as heat-resistant electrodes made of copper or copper-chromium alloy. No electric arc is produced, and the arms are water-cooled in closed circuit. The arms and electrodes are interchangeable to vary spot size and form across different types of weld.